Chelsea supporters are waiting with bated breath as they prepare to enter a new era along with their club. Four shortlisted bidders remain in the £3billion race to replace Roman Abramovich, with the deadline for final offers now up.
That means that there are just days remaining before the future owners at Stamford Bridge are put forward to the Government and the Premier League. From there, the most expensive sale of a sports team in history will be hurried through.
There are understood to be no issues from Downing Street, who would be willing to hand over the reins to any of the parties tussling for control at Stamford Bridge.
As a result, each of the proposals now have a serious shot at snapping up the club. Billionaires have joined forces with others enjoying similar riches to piece together staggering packages, and soon, it will be decision time.
Therefore, it is the perfect time for Sportsmail to take a closer look at the bidders…
The race to replace Roman Abramovich as Chelsea owner is hotting up ahead of the deadline
A consortium headed by Todd Boehly (above) is one of four shortlisted bidders left in the race
An American billionaire, Todd Boehly is potentially a prime candidate to take over at Chelsea. He is the owner of Eldridge, an investment company, and also the co-owner of the LA Dodgers – and this sporting background may stand him in good stead.
Boehly is the part owner of WNBA team the Los Angeles Sparks, and saw a £2.2bn bid to buy Chelsea rejected by Abramovich in 2019. He is keen to expand his sports portfolio, and recently withdrew from talks to buy football team Washington Spirit.
He is also backed by big finances. Clearlake Capital are involved in the bid, and hold £45bn in assets. Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, worth £3.9bn, has also featured prominently. Jonathan Goldstein, meanwhile, has £7.7bn in assets.
As well as the above names, Boehly has been able to lead on the expertise of PR executive Barbara Charone and Daniel Finkelstein, a journalist and Conservative peer in the UK. Both influential figures are self-professed Chelsea fans.
Reports indicated that the potential new owner has offered supporters a ‘golden share’, meaning no major decisions at the club would be made without consulting them – including the future of Stamford Bridge, which may be improved.
American billionaire Boehly has received substantial backing and has a sporting background
Swiss medical magnate Hansjorg Wyss is part of the proposal, and is worth around £3.9bn
The fact that Boehly has also spoken of his desire to buy a top-flight club may help.
He said: ‘The opportunity we had with the Dodgers was really about part-ownership with Los Angeles, how are we going to win, how are we going to drive championships and how are we going to build passion.
‘If you look at what the Premier League offers, it’s all of those things. The billion-pound question is the price. It’s hard to buy quality and not have to pay up.
‘Then it’s a question of can you continue to build on what you’ve acquired at that price? That’s the question.
‘I continue to believe there is a global opportunity for the best clubs. Ultimately, it comes down to can something get done that both sides think makes sense?’
SIR MARTIN BROUGHTON
With previous experience of running a Premier League club, Martin Broughton is another strong contender to take over at Chelsea. He is heavily backed with investment and, ahead of the preferred bidder being chosen, is a good choice.
Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who co-own Crystal Palace and the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, are on board, while major US financier Michael Klein is also involved. The consortium have pledged to keep Chelsea at the top of world football.
In addition, Lord Coe – another Blues supporter and the president of World Athletics – is working with Broughton, and is another valuable face in their proposals.
Broughton helped broker the sale of Liverpool to Fenway Sports Group in 2010 and, during the process, acted as the club’s chairman. The change in ownership there has paid dividends, and the 74-year-old was praised for his efforts.
This bid has also placed an emphasis on the fanbase being heavily involved with the decision-making at the club, including the development of their ground.
Sir Martin Broughton’s consortium has previous experience running a Premier League club
There are a number of hiccups, however.
Harris and Blitzer’s investment in Palace has caused an issue, with Premier League rules stating that a person cannot acquire a ‘significant interest’, namely 10 per cent of more, if they already partly own another club.
They are able to sell their stakes or resign from the board at Selhurst Park, and both scenarios would help to smoothly facilitate the takeover at Chelsea.
The duo have also splashed out on investments using their Sports & Entertainment Company, including NHL side the New Jersey Devils.
Broughton pledged to prevent Chelsea from suffering from geopolitical changes.
A statement outlining his ambitious proposals at the west London side read: ‘The plan will guarantee that the club is never beholden to a single individual or sovereign wealth fund, ensuring that the club never faces a crisis like this again.’
In 2010, Broughton was chairman of Liverpool before they were sold to Fenway Sports Group
Lord Sebastian Coe, a Chelsea supporter, is working with Broughton to take over the club
Co-owner of the Boston Celtics, Atalanta and Bain Capital, which holds an eye-popping £92bn in assets, Stephen Pagliuca has perhaps slipped under the radar. He has rarely commented on his proposals, but has built up formidable support.
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, worth £9bn, has contributed to the finances behind the bid, along with Jim Breyer, a venture capitalist.
Also in the picture is NBA chairman Larry Tenenbaum, the co-owner of several sports teams in Canada. His experience may prove crucial should this bid be put forward, while Bob Iger, the former CEO of Disney, may also lend a helping hand.
Meanwhile, this consortium have received a formal endorsement from the True Blues fans group, which was co-founded by John Terry. They have raised £250million to buy a stake in the club and would hold a crucial voice if Pagliuca comes out on top.
It wasn’t until late March that Pagliuca’s intention to buy Chelsea emerged. He did, however, stress that he wanted the club to be ‘habitual winners’ and stated that they should be the ‘pride of London for its on and off-field accomplishments’.
Steve Pagliuca (left) confirmed NBA chairman Larry Tanenbaum (right) as co-managing partner in the Boston Celtics co-owner’s bid
There appears to be work to do for the 67-year-old, though. His 55 per cent stake in Atalanta in Serie A may be problematic for UEFA, with rules stating ‘no individual or legal entity may have control over more than one club’ in its competitions.
Pagliuca has already indicated he will take measures to meet the regulations.
He has welcomed the support from the True Blues consortium, who are aiming to buy a 10 per cent stake from the eventual new owners to ensure fan representation.
‘We are thrilled to have such an accomplished group of individuals who are committed to the long-term interests of Chelsea Football Club,’ Pagliuca said.
‘We appreciate this opportunity and would be honoured to create an exciting future for this great football club.’
Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook, has contributed to the finances for the group
THE RICKETTS FAMILY
They very much remain in the race, but the Ricketts consortium have been closely followed by controversy at every step in this race. However, there is no doubting their financial power of the owners of MLB franchise the Chicago Cubs.
This bid is also boosted by Ken Griffin, the billionaire hedge-fund entrepreneur worth around £20bn, as well as the owner of Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert.
In recent days, Cobra Beer founder Lord Karan Bilimoria was added to the group. He created the brand in a London flat in 1989, and is the founding chairman of the UK India Business Council and the chair of the Change the Race Ratio.
Positively, the family already have control of a major sports team, and splashed out close to £750m to improve the Cubs’ Wrigley Field stadium. That upgrade saw more shops introduced, and connections fostered to the local community.
The bid is also financed on equity rather than debt.
Tom Ricketts has been at the forefront of his family’s attempts to take over at Stamford Bridge
But the consortium has been dogged by criticism after Joe Ricketts’ past controversial remarks
Tom and Laura Ricketts have spoken to fans’ groups since voicing their intention to buy Chelsea, although they have often been forced to fight fires after controversial comments made by their father Joe, the family’s patriarch, surfaced.
Joe Ricketts’ remarks on Muslims date back to 2019 and have hurt the credibility of the consortium’s proposals. He has since made an apology and is not part of the bid for Chelsea. Paul Canoville, the club’s first black player, condemned the comments.
A protest against the Ricketts’ approach was held ahead of their defeat by Brentford.
Laura has also spoken with LGBT groups to explain the family’s approach to diversity.
It is expected that the Ricketts will also offer supporters a ‘golden share’ in their final bids, allowing them a veto over crucial decisions determining the future of the club.
The comments from the family patriarch about Muslims led to a protest from supporters
FOUR SHORTLISTED BIDDERS
- Steve Pagliuca and Larry Tanenbaum
- Todd Boehly and Jonathan Goldstein
- Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe
- The Ricketts family